October 24, 2016

The Council Has Spoken!! This Weeks’ Watcher’s Council Results


Once again, the Council has spoken, the votes have been cast, and  the results are in for  for this week’s Watcher’s Council match up.

 This week we had a tie in our Council category between Joshuapundit‘s The Dirty Secret Behind ObamaCare No One’s Talking About and The Right Planet’s ObamaSoft — The World’s Worst Rollout in History, who applied his knowledge of software engineering to give us a wonderful and well written in depth look at exactly how big the colossal failure of the ObamaCare rollout was.

In accordance to our by-laws, that means I get to put on my Watcher’s hat and break the tie, and there’s no question – The Right Planet takes the honors this week!


Here’s a slice:

Watching the disastrous rollout of the online healthcare exchanges has really left me shaking my head, and not just for the obvious reasons. The rollout of Obamacare has been described as nothing short of abysmal, leaving some to question why the administration would go ahead with the launch of a busted site. Numerous problems have plagued the debut of the Obamacare healthcare exchanges; and a number of experts are questioning the soundness of the site’s architecture.

But Obamacare supporters are attempting to slough off all the errors associated with the online exchanges as simple “glitches”–to be “expected” with such a revolutionary, comprehensive web-based system.

Well, if there’s something I do know a bit about, it’s software engineering. My background is in client-server development with an emphasis on web applications. Developing distributed applications that must communicate with multiple servers and clients was my field of expertise. I designed relational datebase schemas and ER diagrams; I modeled and mapped the application layers to the data layers using UML and OOD, I wrote the complex SQL queries and stored procedures to access the data layer from application layer; and I dealt with the interface issues and graphical design on the front-end as well. It’s been about five years since I worked for a consulting firm as a software engineer. So forgive me if I may use some “old school” terms in this article. But I’d like to take a deeper look at this whole healthcare software disaster known as healthcare.gov from purely the software engineering perspective.


First, on a bit of a sidenote, I’m surprised by the reliance on a web interface to implement the state healthcare exchanges. Is the assumption that the 30-40 million that are allegedly uninsured and desperately need Obamacare have access to an iPad, laptop or computer? Ironically, in spite of Obamacare (a.k.a Affordable Care Act) and all promises contrary, estimates are there will still be 30 million left uninsured. But I digress.

The debut of healthcare.gov is one of the worst software rollouts I’ve ever witnessed. The president was forced to hold an emergency press conference in the Rose Garden, playing the part of Salesman-in-Chief. The administration and the liberal media are portraying all the software errors as “glitches.” Well, FYI to the liberal media and the CEO of Obamasoft, we don’t refer to fatal program errors as “glitches,” not in software world.

The preferred description for a so-called software “glitch” is a bug. Almost all software contains bugs of some kind. That’s why updates, patches and new versions of software will always be the norm. People aren’t perfect, nor is technology. Software is “alive.” You can’t just code it once and leave it at that; it must constantly be refactored and improved, since technology constantly changes. The big difference between a bug and an error is, typically, a bug will not cause the application (program) to freeze or crash.

For those who have no clue about the software development process, it might help to start off with a bit off a primer on some technical terms and concepts that will hopefully give a better understanding on the challenges of developing and implementing the healthcare.gov online exchanges.

The term application has an important meaning in software engineering. In a general sense, a software application can be thought of as a computer program. But, in a strictly technical sense, a software application is commonly comprised of numerous computer programs.

There are significant differences between what is called a stand-alone application and a web application. A stand-alone application is a computer program like Microsoft Word that installs directly to your computer’s local hard-drive (HD). A web application resides on a remote computer (server), not the client computer’s local hard-drive, and must be accessed via an internet connection. Typically a web application is accessed via a web browser like Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, etc. This is referred to as a client-server architecture–meaning: two separate computer programs communicating with each other.

Much more at the link.

In our non-Council category, the winner was Mark Steyn with Whose Islam?   submitted by Joshuapundit…in which Steyn wonders out loud at the West’s strange insistence that terrorism fomented in the name of Islam has nothing to do with Islam.  Do read it.

OK, here are this week’s full results. Only Rhymes With Right was unable to vote this time, but was not subject to the usual 2/3 vote penalty.:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! Don’t forget to tune in on Monday AM for this week’s Watcher’s Forum, as the Council and their invited special guests take apart one of the provocative issues of the day with short takes and weigh in…don’t you dare miss it. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter…..’cause we’re cool like that!

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